Cops are biased against black suspects — at least, that’s the common perception. However, a new study by crime experts shows that the complete opposite is true.
Researchers from Washington State University used a scientific approach during the study. They selected 36 police officers for the test. All of the cops were white, and most of them were male.
According to PoliceOne, the officers each had over five years of experience on the force. They knew that they were part of a study, but were not told that it involved race.
Each police officer was placed in an advanced shooting simulator and given a Glock handgun that was modified to fire a laser beam. The simulator was able to track exactly when a person fired, and where the shots hit.
Inside the simulator, life-sized and realistic scenarios were played. These scenes were made as accurate as possible and were based on real-life stressful encounters where officers have a high probability of being assaulted.
Realistic scenes included disturbance calls, traffic stops, and common arrest situations that often result in officers being attacked.
The ratio of black, Hispanic, and white suspects involved in the simulated scenarios was the same as it is in real life.
Researchers used the FBI’s crime database to determine how often each race committed an attack on a law enforcement officer, and made sure that the rate was the same in the simulator.
For instance, the test reflected the real-world statistics showing that black suspects assault officers at a higher rate than Hispanics.
Each of the 36 officers was tested to see how they responded to the scenarios. Again, none of the cops knew that they were being tested for racial bias — they were only told that it was a shoot or no-shoot simulation.
The results took the researchers completely by surprise.
Officers had a slower reaction time when dealing with a black suspect in a deadly scenario.
“Our primary finding that participants were more hesitant to shoot Black suspects than White or Hispanic suspects is in direct contrast to prior experimental findings that participants are significantly quicker to shoot Black suspects,” reported Dr. Lois James, a professor of criminology.
In other words, the cops hesitated significantly longer before pulling the trigger on a black attacker than on a white or Hispanic suspect in actual self defense situations.
The specific decisions that the officers made also surprised the research team.
According to Dr. James, police were “less likely to shoot unarmed Black suspects than unarmed White suspects.”
The difference wasn’t just a small amount, either.
“We calculated that participants were 25 times less likely to shoot unarmed Black suspects than they were to shoot unarmed White suspects,” reported the chief researcher.
All of these results show that there is a racial bias in the reactions of police officers — “but in the opposite direction that would be expected from prior experimental studies,” explained Professor James.
The tests “showed significant evidence of bias favoring Black suspects, rather than discriminating against them,” continued the professor.
Researchers are not entirely sure why that occurred, but they think that officers might be more cautious when using force against black suspects because they will face tougher consequences of a mistake when dealing with that race.
This might be due to “real-world concern over discipline, liability, or public disapproval,” stated Dr. James.
Once again, the common narrative just doesn’t hold up to the facts.
Courtesy of Conservative Tribune